Peru to Boost Coca Eradication by 50 Percent in 2013

Peru’s anti-drug chief said that the country will seek to eradicate 22,000 hectares of illegal coca crops this year, state news agency Andina reported.

The target would be an almost 50 percent increase over the some 14,000 hectares of crops that Peru eradicated in 2012.

Carmen Masias, the head of the anti-drug agency Devida, said the goal is “realistic” and would have an impact on drug trafficking organizations.

“If we all come together, with a schedule and organization… obviously we’ll be able to do this,” Masias said.

Almost all of the world’s coca, from which cocaine is manufactured, are grown in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia. Coca is also grown legally in parts of Peru where the leaves are commonly chewn in Andean communities to stave off hunger, exhaustion and the cold and is an important part of religious rituals and festivities.  The leaves are also commonly used today in an infusion or tea to ward off altitude sickness and to aid digestion.

On taking office in 2011, President Ollanta Humala’s government said it would increase resources to combat the country’s growing drug trade.

In 2012, Masias said the government had invested $240 million and this year it plans to invest almost $280 million.  Peru also receives important funding for anti-drug work from the United States and support from other countries.

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